The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) got an early Christmas gift this summer – $40+ billion from the Congress, tucked away in the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” that will likely add more power to California environmental regulations.

White House economists predict the measure will reduce inflation by a whole three tenths of one percent, but it spreads $769 billion of new funding across an array of federal agencies, with a lot of attention paid to $80 billion to hire 87,000 new armed IRS agents. Not a single Republican voted for the bill in either the House or Senate.

The biggest winner under the new law is money for activities to reduce “climate change,” spending $369 billion on the issue. This appropriation gives the EPAmore than $40 billion in the current fiscal year to combat “climate problems, enforce environmental standards and secure environmental justice,” according to a Congressional Research Service report. 

The EPA’s original budget for 2022’s fiscal year was about $9.5 billion, according to agency figures, meaning the bill more than quadruples the EPA’s current annual spending.

The bill will give the EPA $27 billion in accordance with the Clean Air Act to start a ‘Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund’ that will finance competitive grants to fund national and regional “green banks,” which will use the money to fund initiatives and projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions, according to the bill’s text.

Renewable energy initiatives funded by the “green banks” are intended to help underprivileged and low-income communities; the agency will also only have 180 days to allocate these funds to “green banks.”

Provisions of the law allocate $8 billion in total to reduce air pollution at ports and fund general pollution reduction grants. The bill also allots $3 billion for EPA“environmental and climate justice block grants” that will help facilitate political “engagement in disadvantaged communities” through advisory groups, rulemakings, and workshops.

The agency will also receive $1.55 billion to pay for its methane emissions reduction program to offer financial incentives to oil and gas producers who reduce their methane emissions, according to the bill. Additionally, the EPA will get $906 million in total to finance programs that address air pollution in schools, report corporate emissions and help declare “environmental products” as well as various other initiatives.

Keeping track on this bonanza of spending will be challenging, so we’ll concentrate on money that comes to California, where it goes and who benefits. With any luck, some may go to construction equipment improvements.

By Ray Baca, Executive Director Email: [email protected]